Drawing Our Lines in the Sand
We used to have it really easy, carrying what we were told was the “golden passport” — the American passport. We could enter just about any country flashing our little blue booklet, but the world is changing, sadly, as terrorism has been successful in creating fear of anyone who is not like us — whoever “us” is. As we become more global, with a massive communications system that has no borders, we pathetic human creatures seem to need to seek security in a new kind of tribalism and have started drawing even more lines in the sand. Donald Trump’s wall at the Mexican border is a perfect example, but he isn’t the only one interested in closing or controlling borders, as you might have noticed with some recent headlines, or Facebook messages.
A few days ago, the E.U. Parliament voted to end visa-free travel for Americans within the European Union. This comes as a result of the U.S. decision to disallow free travel to the U.S. for people from five E.U. countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania.
Don’t panic, it hasn’t happened just yet and according to dependable sources, Americans still won’t need visas to travel to Europe. “All U.S. and Canadian citizens, including infants, need a valid passport to enter France. Visas are not required for American and Canadian visitors staying in France for up to 90 days. Read more.
The vote happened symbolically in retaliation to the U.S. decision to require those “certain” European countries to need visas to come to the United States. Other countries are reciprocating visa-free travel to all E.U. citizens, such as Australia, Brunei, Japan and by the end of the year, Canada, but the U.S. has not. This new and non-binding vote by Parliament will not actually change the the ability for U.S. citizens to travel to Europe, but certain Europeans still need visas to enter the U.S.
Unfair? That’s the point the E.U. Parliament is making. All they want is reciprocity, and they’re not likely going to get it from “45” (our 45th president). One thing for sure, this is hurting tourism between the two continents, if not relationships. The World Travel & Tourism Council cites Brexit as a cause for a downturn in U.K. tourism (download the full report) and that should be a clue to the U.S. and the E.U. Parliament that any lines in the sand they draw will lead to hurting themselves economically, and of course will do nothing to strengthen relationships between people and nations.
What is happening to us? Can we not stop the fear we have of each other? Can we not stop the childish act of drawing lines in the sand? When are we going to realize we are all made of the same flesh and bones? And shouldn’t we all have the right to be wherever we want to be? THAT is what I call freedom.
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
P.S. Don’t miss this month’s Après Midi, March 14, when Editor and Freelance Journalist, Heidi Ellison, (paris-update.com/fr) discusses her experiences in Paris and France. Join us!
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